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The Guide of the Perplexed, Vol. 1 Paperback – December 15, 1974
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From the Back Cover
This monument of rabbinical exegesis, written at the end of twelfth century, has exerted an immense and continuing influence upon Jewish thought. It has also been a formative element in the thinking of leading Christian writers and philosophers down through the seventeenth century. The Guide is not a philosophical treatise. Rather, its aim is to liberate men from the tormenting perplexities arising from their understanding of the Bible according only to its literal meaning. This celebrated translation is now available in a two-volume Phoenix paperback edition.
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Top customer reviews
The first 1/3 of Volume One seems initially straightforward and is primarily focused with a linguistic interpretation of the Torah in order to show that much of the biblical text is best understood metaphorically rather than literally and therefore does not support a belief in the corporeality of God. For example, the biblical text which states that God created man "in his image" according to Maimonides is not meant to connote that God has either "shape or configuration" and therefore is corporeal, but rather is best translated to mean that God created man in his "likeness" reflecting man's "intellectual apprehension" as the divine link with a creator. Similarly, Maimonides writes that the biblical text which states "My face shall not be seen" does not suggest a literal "face" of God but highlights that the Hebrew word for "face" is typically used figuratively and therefore the correct interpretation of the face of God is that "God's existence as it veritably is cannot be grasped." Although I found this part of the Guide to be illuminating, the rest of Volume One seemed to be a scattered series of disconnected biblical insights from the necessary characteristics needed to attain "human perfection" to demonstrating that God can only be described through negation, with the last 1/3 of the text dedicated to a refutation of Mutakallimun. According to Strauss, this lack of clarity is deliberate since the "secrets of the Law in not a public but a secret explanation" and therefore "the secret teachings are not presented in an orderly fashion but are scattered throughout the book." He also suggests that Volume Two is more straightforward than Volume One.
Despite being somewhat more "perplexed" than before reading the book, I'm fairly certain that any inability to derive more meaning is likely due to my own shortcomings rather than a lack of thoroughness or insight on the part of the text.